I own a 12 year old chicken.
He has a ton of potential, can ride like a dream, smooth gates, can jump.
But he's SO spooky.
He spooks at any sort of suddenness, unlike a lot of horses I see being ridden at my barn, when someone walks by the open door of the arena they are completely unphased, my horse jumps twenty feet off the rail in a panic!
The door creaks a little and he flys off the rail, there's a side door in the arena with a glass window that offers a glimpse of the outside world, he'll spook at anything he see's through that.
And it is somewhat frustrating because I watch everyone else ride there horse on a breezy day with a creaky door, and they're perfectly calm, even the new schooling horse at the barn was calm the other day when it was very windy, and my horse is the only horse in the ring that's darting off the rail 'cause of a tiny noise he hears.
And when he's outside he's worse to, there's bushes all along one side of the small outdoor ring, heaven forbid a car pulls in near the bushes, a bird fly's out of the tree, or a spectator walks by, he freaks! There's another, random pine tree at the opposite corner of the outdoor ring, heaven forbid he see's something in his peripherals as he passes it!
I won't even ride him in the lower outdoor ring near the woods, he's a spooky jolting mess. Because it's near the woods, If someones practicing cross country in the woods and he hears/see's a glimpse of them through the leaves he'll spook, if the tree's rustle from the wind, he'll bolt, and the shrubs planted along side the ring are terrifying to him.
On the trails he spooks at the rustling of leaves, crunching of twings, other horses on the trails, woodland critters, farm machinery ect. And in the woods it is dangerous, because he'll bolt and buck when something spooks him.
I keep him at an eventing stables where I've evented through beginner novice on much quieter horses, and my trainers give me a lot of pressure to compete him, even in just dressage (because due to his tenseness, I don't feel he is ready for the jumpers ring, and he's definitely not ready from the cross country fields as his nerves have caused him to buck me off and bolt due to a spook) but even jut dressage, it would either be outside, in the ring by the woods were horses participating in cross country would drive him nuts, or inside, where the big open ring door would expose him to all the calamity of the rest of the show and cause him to spook. The warm up ring would be a disaster because all the trailers driving by the shrubs to park in the field would freak him out.
I try making him look to the inside and grab his attention, and it works, I can make him look completely to the inside and give me his full attention but he'll STILL spook.
He is also on calming supplements, and he still gets tense on them but he's only been on them for a week so I wasn't expecting much progress this quick.
I ride him completely calm, as to not contribute to his nerves, but he still gets tense and spooky.
What can I do? He's got a lot of potential he's just a such a chicken!